There is something for just about any bond fund investor in the seven fixed-income funds that attained sufficient history in April to be graded be TheStreet.com Ratings.
With a national tax-exempt fund, a single state muni and a municipal money market fund, the tax-exempt offerings on the accompanying table cover the gamut of fund types in that category.
On the taxable side, the group includes a general "529" college savings bond fund, a loan participation offering, a fund classified as investing in short and intermediate government fixed-income securities and, for geographical diversification, a global income fund.
The list even includes a fund with an unusual redemption structure. The
Access Capital Strategic Community Investment Fund
is an "interval fund" that handles redemptions with quarterly offerings to redeem specified percentages of its outstanding shares.
The Strategic Community Fund states its intention as making fixed-income investments to promote affordable housing, education, small business lending and job creation activities. Its prospectus notes that a large portion of its holdings will be in debt instruments of
, Ginnie Mae and the Federal Housing Administration.
XACSX's altruistic intentions haven't held it back from achieving performance sufficiently steady to earn a grade of B- from TheSteet.com Ratings, making it one of the two funds on the adjoining list with grades that equate with "buy" recommendations. Its companion in the "buy" category is the Columbia
New York Tax Exempt Advantage Fund
, whose A- grade made it the only newly rated fund in the "A" range.
One of the seven funds, the steady
Oppenheimer 529 Scholars Edge Ultra Conservative
college savings fund, earned a grade C+ for a "hold" recommendation.
Four members of the group fell into the "D" and "E" grade ranges, which define them as sell" recommendations. They include the
Hartford Floating Rate Fund
, in the unpopular loan participation category. The performance hit resulting from the credit crunch has burdened it was a mark of E+.
The lowest rated fund in the group is the
UBS Absolute Return Bond Fund
, which invests in U.S. as well as international fixed-income investments, including up to 20% in emerging markets. Its total return of minus 14.46% over the past 12 months, which includes a 7.05% decline in the latest three months, garnered a grade of "E" from TheStreet.com Ratings.
Richard Widows is a senior financial analyst for TheStreet.com Ratings. Prior to joining TheStreet.com, Widows was senior product manager for quantitative analytics at Thomson Financial. After receiving an M.B.A. from Santa Clara University in California, his career included development of investment information systems at data firms, including the Lipper division of Reuters. His international experience includes assignments in the U.K. and East Asia.